170 Pounds Lost: Dr. Lee Coleman, Jr. Walks the Weight Off — And Sets an Example
Name: Lee R. Coleman, Jr. MD
What was the “turning point” that prompted you to lose weight?
Well, first of all, as a physician, it was becoming very apparent to me that I was setting a really poor example for patients by being morbidly obese myself. As a surgical resident I had become so large that even the 3X-sized surgical scrubs were too small to wear comfortably. I had to stash scrubs that fit so that I could always have appropriate operating room attire available. The exact incident that really prompted me to start my reduction was after I went to the movies in a crowded theater. After navigating the crowded isle to the one available movie theater seat, I couldn’t fit. When I attempted to sit down, I landed on the arm rests! At that point I had to leave, and as I did this, I could hear people making comments and laughing. It was a horror flick on, so it was obvious they were laughing at me! I had hit an all-time emotional low and felt horrifically humiliated. At that point I knew something had to change!
When did you start trying to lose weight?
The day after the movie theater incident, Feb 1, 1995. I arose from my bed and headed to my local park and commenced my first workout, which consisted of about a 50 yard walk.
How did you get started?
My philosophy was actually quite simple. From my background in biological sciences and medicine, I had an appreciation for the elegant, yet simplistic way the body handles energy, i.e. calories. If you ingest more energy (calories) than you need, the excess will be stored as fat. In light of this I just made the decision that I would always burn more calories than I ate by working out daily and creating a calorie deficit, at which point my body would have to find other means to produce energy, by burning fat! The only exercise I participated in was walking, which was free of charge and could be done just about anywhere. I basically walked myself to a 160 to 170 pound weight loss! Nothing fancy, no money spent, other than on shoes.
What was your biggest challenge?
My biggest challenge really was getting over the embarrassment of walking at the park with all the other people. I’ve always been a relatively shy person and very self-conscious about my body so to actually go out among all of those people and walk hour after hour and day after day was very trying! Cutting my calories back wasn’t as big of an issue for me because that could be done all by my lonesome. But to exercise, which was a huge factor in my success, I had to go to the park amongst others and feel the stares, be they real or just fabricated in my mind.
Were there any times when you wanted to quit or give up? How did you stay motivated?
Oh, plenty of things would creep up from time to time to frustrate me. For instance, I use to walk so much that I developed irritation in the region between my thighs due to them being so large and rubbing together. I used to spread corn starch between them to lessen the friction and make the walks more bearable. Also, during little league football season at the park, some of the kids would yell some pretty insulting names at me as I walked. There were plenty of times I asked myself was this worth it? Could I really do this? First I had to get out of the 300’s, then the 200’s, and then into the 100’s. The way I would stay motivated actually was from observing others at the park that I wanted to be like or surpass. There was one guy who used to run for miles around the park, and from my first week of my quest for fitness I always wanted to be able to do that. He was shocked that in about a year, I actually ran past him. He said that he could not believe I was the same guy he saw struggling for lap after lap!
If you reached a weight loss plateau, how did you break out of the rut?
I hit many plateaus during my journey. I always handled them by cutting my calories back just a little more in conjunction with increasing the speed or duration of my walks. As I got even smaller, I incorporated intermittent running and jumping rope.
What’s your current exercise routine?
Well, walking is still a major part of my routine. I’m addicted to walking. I always park in the rear of parking lots and always take the stairs when possible! Walk, walk, walk! Many times people think I’m an athlete, but I’m not at all. I’m a nerd to the core! Walking is the main way I accomplished my fitness goals! A comfortable pair of shoes, some pavement, and you’re on your way. For those days in South Florida when it’s raining or much too hot to be outside, I’ve also become a fan of the fitness workouts available on Comcast Xfinity — specifically their indoor walking routines!
What’s your daily diet look like?
I try to stick to eating lean proteins such as fish and chicken, a good amount of vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, and spinach. I also incorporate oatmeal with some honey, blueberries, and wheat germ for plenty of fiber and antioxidants. Brown rice and whole wheat bread (when I have bread) round out the foundation of my eating plan. I also maintain a low sodium diet, staying below 1500mg per day.
What’s your favorite healthy snack/meal?
I’ve become very fond of a slice of whole wheat bread topped with almond butter and honey as a snack. One of my favorite meals would be wild salmon with a side of broccoli or brown rice.
Do you have specific suggestions for avoiding temptations?
Instead of running from the mere sight of a tempting food item, I retrained my mind to love the healthy foods so much that I lost interest in the unhealthy items. I absolutely lived in fast food restaurants and loved sweets, but I can honestly say that now I can walk right past a slice of cake or a cheeseburger and not even think twice. Keeping the tempting foods out of your home certainly plays a part in avoiding temptations, but if a person doesn’t change their mindset towards healthy eating, the new healthy lifestyle may be difficult to maintain.
What’s your life like after weight loss?
Life is much better now after losing weight! No more shopping in the tall and big section as my waist size has shrunk from a whopping 56 inches all the way down to 29 inches. My physical self-confidence has increased significantly and I no longer feel self-conscious when entering a room full of people. I also feel like I’m treated with more respect now, irrespective of my being a physician, but just based on me being me. Growing up, I always hid behind high grades and test scores but outside of an academic setting, I was pretty much was invisible. I’ll always be sensitive to others out there struggling with morbid obesity because I understand from personal experience what a tough existence that can be.
If you have any suggestions to others what would they be?
My biggest suggestion is to be dedicated and diligent about their plan. Do not be lukewarm about reaching the goal, be on fire about it! Put blinders on and plow full steam ahead toward the goal.
Source: Everyday Health